Shropshire Star

Fun, food and flat-out speed at Shrewsbury's first Wacky Races

It was an action-packed day full of fun, food and flat-out speed – and up to 12,000 people turned out to support Shrewsbury's first Wacky Races.

The crowd cheers on the soapboxes taking part in Shrewsbury’s Wacky Races

Organisers said they were overwhelmed by the thousands of fans who came to cheer on the 35 soapboxes taking part in the event at Shrewsbury Quarry on Sunday.

Each was designed by businesses, families and individuals to look as eye-catching and crazy as possible.

And many of them were raising money for causes close to their hearts.

Sarah Belcher, who organised the event, said: "We have been overwhelmed by the amount of support we have had. It's been a great atmosphere – very wacky – and everybody has had a happy day.

This soapbox was designed to look like a brain

"We're probably looking at about 12,000 people coming out in support.

"All the teams had a fantastic time. They really got into the spirit of things – it was really good."

Sarah said the fact it was a free event had helped bring people out.

"The whole of Shrewsbury and Shropshire have got behind it," she said. "Because it's a free event, they've got involved in it.

"The positive feedback we've had has been great. There are learning curves, and we're hoping to come back next year better and bigger."


Sponsored by Jaguar Hatfields, the event also raised money for Macmillan and The Harry Johnson Trust.

And the latter were there in style – in their Frog 1 kart made out of a children's paddling pool.

The charity, which supports children with cancer in Shropshire and Mid Wales, said it had been a good opportunity to raise awareness of its work.

From left, Matt Jones, Stephen Johnson, Nick Onions, Jim Dale (in driver's seat) and Duncan Roberts

"It's a lot faster than it looks," driver Duncan Roberts said. "When you're sitting that close to the floor it's quick."

"The children seem to really like the car, because it is furry. We thought it would have a tactile feel for the kiddies."

The team put the car together in about a month, taking three evenings a week to build it.

Pirate ship

Nigel Turner, who built The Boar's Head boat with regulars and staff at the Belle Vue Road pub, recycled a lot of material to make his pirate ship. They supported the Midlands Air Ambulance.

"It took weeks and weeks – we started just before Christmas," he said. "We only had a few hours a week. People have donated stuff for us to use.

"I knew the whole pub would get involved in it, and they have. This is a good event for Shrewsbury. It was absolutely choc-a-bloc. We'll probably do it again next year."

Ali Price and her family were getting a lot of attention for their Only Fools and Horses styled kart.

Organisers said they were overwhelmed with the amount of support they received for the event

Although it's a company effort for Contacts Castings in West Bromwich, they also were raising money for the Alzheimer's Society as well.

Ali said: "We didn't do bad. It went down hill as well as we wanted to, we didn't hit the chicanes which everybody was worried about – we've done really well. We've really enjoyed it, it has been really a nice event.

"It has definitely been worth the effort we have put in. It was a real family thing, which is what we wanted. We might be back next year – we might change the design slightly to make it faster."

Go, go, go for retired Vulcan pilot

He’s flown Vulcan jets all over the world but this one was a little closer to home for retired pilot Ian Prior.

Retired pilot Ian Prior unexpectedly stepped into the driving seat of a Vulcan soapbox at the Wacky Races in Shrewsbury

The pensioner unexpectedly stepped into the driving seat of a Vulcan soapbox at the Wacky Races event.

The kart belonged to the Severn Business Network team led by Andy Lawrence.

Mr Prior had seen a picture of the Vulcan soapbox prior to the event but never imagined he’d be hurtling down the course in the Quarry.

“When we got there with the soapbox this chap came up to us and said he hadn’t been planning to come but wanted to see our kart,” Mr Lawrence said.

“He told us he used to fly Vulcans and the last one he flew in 1981 was the Avro Vulcan XH558 – which just so happened to be the number we had on our soapbox. I couldn’t believe it.”

Mr Lawrence had taken the kart on its first run of the course and offered Mr Prior the opportunity to take it on the second lap.

He added: “I said we would be honoured to have an actual Vulcan pilot driving our soapbox. He ummed and ahhed about it but eventually said ‘Oh go on then!’.

“What made it even funnier was that he got in and crashed it three times – not badly thankfully. When he got back to the top he said he is so used to steering the real Vulcan with his feet, and the soapboax was completely the opposite.”

Organiser Sarah Belcher said an estimated 15,000 turned out for the inaugural Wacky Races event and confirmed a date had already been confirmed for next year – May 24.